PRConf14 Guest blog 2 – The Power of Publics

Bruce Fraser, Fraser Consultants Ltd and PRINZ President.

“It’s not dumb people, it’s dumb processes,” said the keynote speaker as this year’s PRINZ conference. Professor John Parkinson from the University of Warwick and ex PRINZ vice president, spoke on the power of publics.

Professor John Parkinson, with Jocelyn Williams of UNITEC.

Prof John Parkinson with Jocelyn Williams of Unitec.

Publics, he told us, are inventing their own spaces in their contributions to our increasingly ‘deliberative society.” If our company or organisational messages are not being understood or received, we shouldn’t blame the publics but look at the processes we’ve used.

The plural use of the term publics makes real sense to me although it sounds very un-New Zealand like. The nice thing about it is that it invites us to consider our various audiences and how they prefer to interact with us.

The challenge for PR practitioners, Prof Parkinson told us, is to enrich the information environment. By providing our publics with high quality information, we stimulate quality discussion as people have access to the richest data possible. He challenged us to consider whether we were clarifying or poisoning the information well. By promoting our clients’ perspectives, are we at risk of providing only part of the picture?

Parkinson urged us to champion good processes. As communicators we should be advocating for the best quality interactions with our publics using good processes. As we engage with ‘deliberative mini publics’ we need to be our organisations eyes and ears as we listen to what’s being said and promoting great processes to develop robust outcomes.

You can learn more about the work of Professor Parkinson here


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